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Rest Breaks: What Employees Need to Know

Rest Breaks: What Employees Need to Know

By Malatesta Law on April 1, 2018

Non-exempt employees must be provided with paid rest breaks.

When are Employees Entitled to a Rest Break?

Employees must be provided a paid rest period of at least 10 minutes for every 4 hours worked.

If it is practicable for the employer’s business, an employee’s rest period must be in the middle of each four hour work period.

Rest Break Timing Chart

  • If an employee’s shift is less than three and one half (3.5) hours — No rest period needs to be permitted.
  • If an employee’s shift lasts between three and one half (3.5) hours and six (6) hours — 1 rest period permitted.
  • If an employee’s shift lasts more than six (6) hours up to ten (10) hours — 2 rest periods permitted.
  • If an employee’s shift lasts more than ten (10) hours up to fourteen (14) hours — 3 rest periods permitted.

What Constitutes a Lawful Rest Period?

The California Supreme Court recently clarified what constitutes a lawful rest period. To be a lawful rest period, employers must relieve employees of all duties and relinquish any control over how employees spend their time during their rest periods. Thus, employees must be free to do as they choose and spend their time however they want, during their rest breaks in order for their rest break to constitute a lawful break.

In California, there is no on-duty or on-call rest periods.

Can Employees Waive Their Right to a Rest Period?

No. The right to a rest period is a generally applicable labor standard that is not subject to waiver by agreement.

Are Rest Breaks Paid?

Yes. Employees must be paid for the time they spend on their rest breaks.

What is the Penalty for an Employer’s Failure to Provide an Employee a Rest Break?

An employer who fails to provide rest periods must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate for each day that a rest period was not provided.

Pursuant to the applicable statute of limitations, an employee can recover up to three years of penalties for an employer’s failure to provide rest breaks. This penalty period can be extended one additional year, for a total of a four year penalty period, if a cause of action for unfair competition is added.

Posted in: Wage & Hour